Gahanna-Lincoln went on an 11-0 fourth quarter run that spanned nearly 5 minutes, giving them the lead for good as they survived with a 53-50 win over Pickerington Central tonight at the Fairgrounds Coliseum. In the end, the Tigers’ (19-8) Connor Kern would have two seperate chances to tie the game from beyond the arc, but could not capitalize on either. With the win, the Lions (22-5) have guaranteed a second regional final appearance in four years, this time a rematch with the Northland Vikings, the same team they upset in the 2010 regional final.
After taking a 37-31 lead early in the fourth quarter, the Tigers would struggle over the next five-plus minutes, shooting 1/8 from the field, and missing two free throws, each the front-end of a 1-and-1. Gahanna capitalized on the Pickerington Central struggles, a 17-2 run in which the Lions went 5/8 from the field and 7/8 at the charity stripe.
The game was a defensive battle for the full 32 minutes, and the first quarter was a definite indication of that. After an Aaron Jackson layup to cut the Pickerington Central (xx-x) lead to 8-6, the Lions were held scoreless for three-plus minutes until Manny Powell knocked down a three to end scoring in the first at 11-9.
Powell would add his second triple of the night to start the second quarter, giving the Lions the lead once again. The lead would change hands four times in the quarter alone, and the Tigers were able to stay close despite shooting just 1/8 from three and only 33% from the field in the half.
After the half, Gahanna would extend the lead to 22-19 after a pair of Keith Scowden free throws. Future buckeye Jae’Sean Tate had 7 points and collected 7 rebounds in the first half, but his third quarter stat line alone would make most coaches happy. Tate would dominate the third quarter, going for 14 points on 7/12 shooting and 6 rebounds, half of them on the offensive glass. The Lions however would make the game close again, tying the game at 31 after a Ronnie Stokes bucket with two-plus minutes left in the third quarter.
Trailing 48-40 late in the game, Jae’Sean Tate would take over for the Tigers, keeping them in the game single-handidly by scoring their final ten points, aided by 3/6 free throw shooting and a turnover. Tate would finish with a game-high 31 points, 17 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots.
Aaron Jackson for Gahanna led the Lions with 18 points, going 5/6 from the field and 5/5 from the free throw line.